The love I have for my son is so strong and is with complete and total devotion. I always felt that if I could be half the father to my son that my dad was to me than I know my son would be fine. I always looked to my dad for his advice and when I needed to talk about my concerns and my achievements. My Dad was such a caring and compassionate person and he was from the old school and held on to the traditional values that have somehow gotten lost with the changing times and attitudes. I, like my dad value his same beliefs and values which I share and teach to my son. My dad had grown up in a family as the second oldest of seven children, 4 boys and 3 girls. His father, a hard working man was very stern and quick to holler and was very demanding of him as a young boy and this certainly affected him. I remember my dad as very easy going and very understanding. He never hollered at us when my sisters and I were young and he and mom disciplined us through talking to us. We certainly had the right model of parenting to follow.
My dad was very proud of me and made me feel very worthwhile and he always spoke encouraging words to me and treated me with complete respect. I could see my dad was so delighted for both Maria and I when we brought Matthew home from the hospital. He loved Matthew and would come and visit and play with him when he was a toddler. He was always very kind and a wonderful grandfather. When we informed him about Matthew's autism he was very concerned for him and made it a point to continue visiting him and treating him like his other grandchildren. He told us Matthew is special and that we are specially chosen to shape and mold him and provide him the love, support and guidance he needs. My dad was always good at looking at the positive side of things and providing such sound advice and genuine concern.
If I was asked who I looked up to or would like to follow in the footsteps of, my answer would be very quick and with strong conviction. Of course the answer is my dad! He's the one who was very loving and supportive of our mom who suffered from mental illness and was in and out of hospitals for many years. This took its toll on him and the family and we all had to deal with it in our own ways. We lost her when she was only 50 back in 1990 and it was a very difficult and painful time as I was a young man and I also had looked to my mom for advice and guidance for many years.
My dad carried on bravely but he was deeply affected by her loss and a part of him died the day she died. That year was particularly difficult for my dad because within a span of 2 months he lost his wife and his younger brother, Donald. My dad had a wonderful relationship with his brother Donald and it really affected him terribly.
Despite the tragedies and hardships my dad encountered in his life he always had a sense of purpose and an undeniable strength and courage to forge ahead and he always stayed true to his responsibilities. I get my strength and courage from him and I will make it my life's work to help my son as my dad helped me. I only wish we had him here still so I can tell him how much I love and miss him. I too wish I could introduce my beautiful wife and son to my mom who I love and miss despite the many years that have passed.
So I say to my Dad thank you for all your support and love and for encouraging me to be the best I can be and most of all thank you for spending so much time with your grandson Matthew. He will always remember that and so will we!